While going to Google to search for virtually anything is a common practice for many of us, the same isn’t true for people in China. The Chinese government’s strict censorship rules ban a regular version of Google Search from operating in the country, and while that won’t be changing anytime soon, a new report from The Intercept claims that Google’s working with the government to launch a censored, stripped down version of its search engine.
The project is currently codenamed as “Dragonfly” and would bring Google Search to China in the form of an Android app. While there aren’t any plans for a desktop version quite yet, that shouldn’t pose a real issue as 95% of users in China access the internet through a mobile device with Android holding a market share of 80%.
However, if/when that Android app launches, it won’t be the same version of Google Search you and I are familiar with.
As reported by The Intercept —
Google’s Chinese search app will automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the Great Firewall. When a person carries out a search, banned websites will be removed from the first page of results, and a disclaimer will be displayed stating that “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.” Examples cited in the documents of websites that will be subject to the censorship include those of British news broadcaster BBC and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
The “Great Firewall” mentioned above is China’s internet censorship program and blocks individuals from seeing online content relating to free speech, certain news topics, sex, and more.
Furthermore, The Intercept also notes that Google’s app won’t show any results for specific words and phrases that have been banned by the government.
The censorship will apply across the platform: Google’s image search, automatic spell check and suggested search features will incorporate the blacklists, meaning that they will not recommend people information or photographs the government has banned.
Assuming the Chinese government approves Google’s app, we could see it launch within the next six to nine months.
Google had a similar version of its search engine available in China between 2006 and 2010, but eventually decided to retreat from the country following harsh criticism from the United States for its compliance with the government’s censorship.
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